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The Woman in the Window (1944)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 3 November 1944 (USA)
When a conservative middle-aged professor engages in a minor dalliance with a femme fatale, he is plunged into a nightmarish quicksand of blackmail and murder.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Nunnally Johnson (written for the screen by), J.H. Wallis (novel)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edward G. Robinson ... Prof. Richard Wanley
Joan Bennett ... Alice Reed
Raymond Massey ... District Attorney Frank Lalor
Edmund Breon ... Dr. Michael Barkstane
Dan Duryea ... Heidt / Tim, the Doorman
Thomas E. Jackson ... Inspector Jackson, Homicide Bureau
Dorothy Peterson ... Mrs. Wanley
Arthur Loft ... Claude Mazard / Frank Howard / Charlie the Hatcheck Man
Frank Dawson Frank Dawson ... Collins--Steward
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Storyline

Gotham College professor Wanley and his friends become obsessed with the portrait of a woman in the window next to the men's club. Wanley happens to meet the woman while admiring her portrait, and ends up in her apartment for talk and a bit of champagne. Her boyfriend bursts in and misinterprets Wanley's presence, whereupon a scuffle ensues and the boyfriend gets killed. In order to protect his reputation, the professor agrees to dump the body and help cover up the killing, but becomes increasingly suspect as the police uncover more and more clues and a blackmailer begins leaning on the woman. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It was the look in her eyes that did it! How could he resist? How could he know it meant MURDER? See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 November 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Once Off Guard See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Wanley's car is a 1937 Cadillac Series 65 Touring sedan. MSRP new was $2,190 ($39,300 in 2018). 7,003 of this model were made. See more »

Goofs

When Claude Mazard hits Alice in the face, his hand clearly does not actually hit her, yet she reacts to it. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Richard Wanley: [lecturing] The Biblical injunction "Thou shalt not kill" is one that requires qualification in view of our broader knowledge of impulses behind homicide. The various legal categories such as first and second degree murder, the various degrees of homicide, manslaughter, are civilized recognitions of impulses of various degrees of culpability. The man who kills in self defense, for instance, must not be judged by the same standards applied to the man who kills for gain.
See more »

Connections

Version of Robert Montgomery Presents: Woman in the Window (1955) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
I was warned of the siren call of adventure.
12 March 2011 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

The Woman in the Window is directed by Fritz Lang and adapted by Nunnally Johnson from the novel "Once off Guard" written by J.H. Wallis. It stars Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey & Dan Duryea. Music is by Arthur Lange and Milton R. Krasner is the cinematographer.

After admiring a portrait of Alice Reed (Bennett) in the storefront window of the shop next to his Gentleman's Club, Professor Richard Wanley (Robinson) is shocked to actually meet her in person on the street. It's a meeting that leads to a killing, recrimination and blackmail.

Time has shown The Woman in the Window to be one of the most significant movies in the film noir cycle. It was part of the original group identified by Cahiers du Cinéma that formed the cornerstone of film noir (the others were The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Laura and Murder My Sweet). Its reputation set in stone, it's a film that boasts many of the key noir ingredients: man meets woman and finds his life flipped upside down, shifty characters, a killing, shadows and low lights, and of course an atmosphere thick with suspense. Yet the ending to this day is divisive and, depending what side of the camp you side with, it makes the film either a high rank classic noir or a nearly high rank classic noir. Personally it bothers me does the finale, it comes off as something that Rod Serling could have used on The Twilight Zone but decided to discard. No doubt to my mind that had Lang put in the ending from the source, this would be a 10/10 movie, for everything else in it is top draw stuff.

At its core the film is about the dangers of stepping out of the normal, a peril of wish fulfilment in middle age, with Lang gleefully smothering the themes with the onset of a devilish fate and the stark warning that being caught just "once off guard" can doom you to the unthinkable. There's even the odd Freudian interpretation to sample. All of which is aided by the excellent work of Krasner, who along with his director paints a shadowy world consisting of mirrors, clocks and Venetian blinds. The cast are very strong, strong enough in fact for Robinson, Bennett and Duryea to re-team with Lang the following year for the similar, but better, Scarlet Street, while Lang's direction doesn't miss a beat.

A great film regardless of the Production Code appeasing ending, with its importance in the pantheon of film noir well deserved. But you sense that watching it as a companion piece to Scarlet Street, that Lang finally made the film that this sort of story deserved. The Woman in the Window: essential but not essentially the best of its type. 8/10


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